Researchers have developed a new impermeable barrier that can lead to high-efficiency solar cells.
Materials Science has advanced significantly in the past decade. These advancements are trying to create potential materials for next-generation electronic devices and batteries. Researchers from Curtin University have recently discovered that applying a thin invisible layer of graphene oxide to silicon forms an impermeable barrier, which can prevent corrosion in metals and produce higher efficiency solar cells.
According to the lead author Dr. Nadim Darwish from Curtin’s School of Molecular Life Sciences, protective layers on silicon were already used as an efficiency enhancer in devices such as solar cells and microchips, but the procedure for forming these protective coatings was complicated and required highly specialized fabrication laboratories.
“Silicon solar cells often require the application of a layer of alumina, silica or other material to increase their efficiency in transforming sunlight to electricity. Our breakthrough was finding that graphene oxide reacts quickly with silicon without the need for external catalysts, additives or complicated procedures,” Dr. Darwish said.
“We found the graphene oxide protects silicon from ambient oxygen for at least 30 days, which is a significant step forward in applying the properties of 2D materials such as graphene and graphene oxide to make silicon even more efficient and useful.”
Research co-author Ph.D. student Soraya Rahpeima believes that their study can pave the road for newer photovoltaic cells with high power conversion efficiency.
“This breakthrough opens a whole new realm of possibilities even beyond silicon research,” Ms Rahpeima said. “For example, graphene and graphene oxide can be used to protect sensitive materials from gases and ambient environments including ultraviolet light.”
The research appeared in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.